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CBS is offering its fans a peek behind the scenes at CSI.
Beginning today, the network will unveil Anatomy of a TV Hit: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, a nine episode web series centered on the creation of the billion dollar franchise now in its 12th season.
The episodes feature interviews with every major executive involved in the long-running series, from CBS’ Leslie Moonves and Nina Tassler to executive producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Carol Mendelsohn to former stars William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger.
The first episode, which clocks in at 10 minutes, provides first-person accounts of the series’ initial pitch to the network. Among the highlights is the show’s creator Anthony Zuiker recalling the pep talk producer Jonathan Littman gave him as he headed into the CBS offices to sell the forensic investigators concept.
“I remember being upset and depressed,” says Zuiker. “NBC and Fox didn’t want to see me and ABC already passed. Jonathan said if you don’t sell it here, it’s dead.”
Tassler and Moonves, too, use the platform to reflect on the early excitement surrounding the concept from a little-known writer. “You will not be disappointed,” was the convincing message Tassler remembers hearing from Littman. Twelve seasons later, she acknowledges the message proved exceedingly accurate.
Later in episode one, Petersen recalls how his character was initially conceived with a very Jewish last name, an idea he was up for until Moonves stepped in. “Billy is a brilliant actor,” the CBS chief tells the cameras, “but you don’t think Jewish when you first see him.”
The remaining episodes, which will roll out on Tuesdays and Thursdays on CBS.com between now and March 8, will focus on such topics as shooting the pilot, casting, special effects and production.
Here’s a look at Anatomy of a Hit:
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